Report from L.A.'s Grammy Week: Paul McCartney's MusiCares Person of Year gala
On Friday night I had the privilege of attending the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year benefit at the Los Angeles Convention Center, with that Person being Sir Paul McCartney.
MusiCares is a charity that provides a safety net for music people in times of need, and McCartney was named Person of the Year for his lifetime of philanthropy and humanitarianism. The POY gala, which was sold out long ago and was hosted in one of the largest ballrooms I've ever seen, hosted about 2,500 people who paid about $1,500 per seat to see a memorable concert headlined by none other than Sir Paul himself.
In the afternoon, I attended the red carpet, and here is a list of just some of the people who walked by me to honor Paul: Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Christina Perri, Kevin Eubanks, Sergio Mendes, Pat O'Brien, Carla Ortiz, Joe Walsh, James McCartney, Tony Bennett, Tamara Brown, Rosanna Arquette, Smokey Robinson, Steve Vai, Kerli, Corinne Bailey Rae, David Foster, Jason Mraz, Brian Wilson, Glen Campbell, Neil Young, Yoko Ono (putting to rest any rumors of enmity between the two), Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Jimmy Jam, Jackie Collins, James Taylor, Richard Branson, Eddie Izzard (who emceed the gala), John Stamos, JUlie Chen, Les Moonves, Bill and Giuliana Rancic, Hugh Hefner (with two blonde dates), Foo Fighters, Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Bonnie Raitt, and Valerie Simpson. Once inside the venue, I saw many more, including Randy Jackson, L.A. Reid, Little Steven, Carole King, and David Crosby.
The red carpet was the usual shark-eat-shark castle of chaos, and I felt like I was in the middle of a TMZ show all afternoon. You never saw so many limos and photographers in your life. Alas, hardly anyone stopped to talk to the lonely print media, positioned at the very end of the red carpet, and the media was not just me, but Billboard, Rolling Stone, and Us Weekly.
Somehow, God was on my side today as a Grammy publicist (who happened to deliver Salt Lake Tribune papers when he was younger, no joke) told me that yes, I had a seat waiting for me inside the gala. I got to my table after going through the security line just ahead of Carole King, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, and found myself at a table right next to Eddie Izzard's table.
The meal was in honor of Paul, so of course it was a meatless meal, with an appetizer of caprese salad, and an entree of a puff pastry stuffed with portobellos and other veggies, served with asparagus, carrots, a potato, all atop a bed of lentils. For dessert, it was candied pears, apples and berries. I'm a carnivore, but it was quite tasty. (I guess it should be,for $1,500.) Plus, there was all the wine you could drink.
Once dinner was done, there was an auction of several items, with all proceeds going to MusiCares. A 2012 Acura signed by all of the evening's performers went for $80,000. Two private jet tickets and two front-row ticket to see Celine Dion went for $25,000. A four-day trip to this summer's London Olympics, coupled with 10 days at nay HIlton in the world, went for $45,000. The final item was Peter Max-designed baby grand piano that used to be in Ringo Starr's house, and it went for $175,000.
Over the course of the evening, Grammy President Neil Portnow said, more than $6 million was raised for MusiCares, including $250,000 from Katy Perry.
But the best part of the whole night was the two-hour concert that concluded all of the festivities. After a five-minute sliver of "Love" from Cirque du Soleil, Paul and his band opened with "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Junior's Farm," and then he left the stage, replaced by the Foo Fighters, who performed an aggressive version of "Jet." Next, it was Alicia Keys on piano for a simple "Blackbird," followed by Alison Krauss. Then it was Tony Bennett on "Here, There and Everywhere," followed by Duane Eddy on "And I Love Her."
Norah Jones followed with "Oh Darling!" an then Katy Perry performed "Hey Jude" after an opening snippet of "Live and Let Die." Neil Young and Crazy Horse continued the show with a raucous "I Saw Her Standing There," and then Sergio Mendes delivered "Fool on the Hill." Coldplay next played "We Can Work It Out" as if it were an out-take from Dylan's "John Wesley Harding" album. James Taylor and Diana Krall then teamed up for "Yesterday" and "For No One."
Paul then returned to the stage, and with Krall still on the piano (she and her band are the backing band on his new album) and Joe Walsh on the guitar, dedicated "My Valentine" to his bride, and then performed a jazzy take on "Kisses on the Bottom."
He then jumped onto the piano for a Wings song, and then closed the night with the undeniable highlight: an amended version of side two of "Abbey Road," his song suite that ended with the classic and famous line, "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." He was joined on the final guitar jam by Walsh and Dave Grohl, and it ended a show that you wish everyone could have seen. I hope somebody recorded it and sells it one day.
We all left with a skip in our step, a smile on our face and a gift bag filled with 16 types of shampoo. Los Angeles is going to be full of luscious, radiant hair this weekend.
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